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the culture around us is disintegrating
and we stand against it and that’s
no small thing

he said it’s weird how we go through life
and all the stuff that we never expected
to happen to us because they were always a
long ways off, suddenly start to happen
to you one by one - time

gnomes, redwoods, cut up
light that falls into an open expanse like
a cathedral or a canyon, hot breakfast
rough kisses, peanut butter and
jelly sandwich and on warm bread
with a bit of honey that overflows
so much with substance that
as you eat little bits escape from
the corners of the mouth where someone
who speaks to you softly and touches you lovingly
wipes it away with the tip of their
fingertips and then puts it in your mouth to suck
the last remnants of sweetness away

Life

and it is true, I couldn’t
believe it

light
is a god

the topless girl from
a distance letting the
sun saturate her body
like being submerged in
water as she rests on the
recently cleaned by droplets
of dew green grass

crickets, bird songs, blue expanse

her head rests on her arms
her hair the color of almonds as
tranquil as a cucumber as gentle as
a caterpillar dreaming and as vulnerable
as the ocean

i can see now that this naid is actually a faun
and that he has all the delicate features of
femininity save one

the little girl concerned
about the love she sees
on tv talked about amongst
her friends and encouraged
by her parents and society

said to me, her voice a little
strained, her eyes a bit red,

love doesn’t have to involve
people

through the interstices
a half naked faun resting
in the summer sunshine
does not last long because
of the encroaching evening fog

—- youth

the old lady that
used to take care
of her friend who
was wheel chair
bound who she’d
help onto vans
chairs toilets and
sofas said to me
when I offered her
my condolences
after I heard that her
friend had suffered
a super massive
stroke and was now
fully paralyzed

'well, at least I don't
have to lift anymore’

The Stars and the Frogs

I tried never to think about sleeping. I had lived with the knowledge that if I ever went to sleep my soul would slip out of my body while I dreamed. Of course there would be those moments, where if I did not exert the greatest of efforts in keeping awake, I would accidentally fall asleep. But I never fell asleep willingly, it was always accidental. I was fairly certain that falling asleep accidentally poised no direct danger to my soul, but I never risked it. I had various strategies in keeping awake at night. I would lay with my eyes open, always with my eyes open, and think and listen and think and listen. Sometimes there were many things I could listen too, and (as those acquainted with sleepless nights well know) there were always many things that I could think of.

The windows were opened in the room I was laying in. I was in the South, and the air was thick and was like a hot humid blanket, that made it so you could practically sleep naked and be all the more comfortable by it. I could hear the frogs in the lake faraway, I could hear their muted moans, their cacophony of croaks. I had learned in school that frogs can only hear very particular frequencies and so at night, when you hear them croaking in a wild cacophony, to them it is as silent and as serene as listening to a river flow gently passed. I listened to the frogs croak and it helped me distract my mind. I didn’t know why I had come here, my father was here, but I did not want to see him.

I remembered when I was a boy, my father and I would go trout fishing in a nearby river. We’d stand at the place where the river met the lake. My job was to collect bait from the surroundings. I would lift up logs and look for beetles and worms that if you were not quick enough, would disappear in the soft Mississippian soil. Sometimes bait was very difficult to find. One time I found a salamander, it was so small in my hand, and neat and nimble. I admired it’s color and it’s feet, where every toe acted as an independent hand upon my fingers. I did not want to hook the salamander but my father had seen that I had caught one, and so implored me to hook him. I was young, and so I did as I was told. It hurt me to hook the salamander, there was something about the way in which the salamander’s toes grappled around the hook as it went through it’s body. My father said that salamanders made for very good fishing, but after that, I never hooked anymore salamanders. I would just look for other kinds of bait. Worms were my favorite, they always caught the biggest trout. Grasshoppers never stayed on the hook, neither did tadpoles, or woodmites. In this part of the south practically every time of the year was good for fishing. In the summer the fish were big and plump, though harder and trickier to catch. In the winter fishing was always easy because the fish were always hungry.

Sometimes standing in the tall grassy marshlands that led to the river bank, we’d see enormous flocks of ducks and geese migrating. It was always an overwhelming sight to see them, hundreds of thousands sometimes flying overhead and each one knew that you were there, watching them from faraway, admiring them even. My father knew how to make their calls and could call them down, and he knew how to read the wind and tell which direction our scent flew. He’d motion for me to get down and hide in the grasses, and I would, and he’d take out his rifle which was big and heavy and loud, and he’d make his bird calls, seducing the birds in the air to land nearby. I’d watch them land concealed under the grass and with a big bang my father would fire his rifle and shoot the bird with the best shot, and claim one or two or three more in midair as they scattered frantically away. My dad would leave them where they fell and we’d move on. Now the frogs were croaking in a lake nearby, and I could hear them speaking to one another, in what I can only imagine are like spells in the night.

But sometimes I could not think about trout fishing with my father, and I would lay awake, thinking about everyone who I ever loved. I would say a little prayer for them and that took a great deal of time. I would go back to the earliest love I could remember, and hope that they were well and healthy and happy and all the way up to the last love that had left me. When I was a very small child, I lived next door to a girl, the same age as me. I remembered the way in which in springtime we’d roll down a giant grassy hillside and feel the soft nimble grass bending under the contours of our bodies and the way in which we’d lose control as we fell and gathered velocity. It was the most innocent kind of play in the world. I would think about that sometimes and it would help me not to fall asleep. Every night I would go back far enough in my memory to occupy a great deal of time in thinking about people I had loved one by one. I would imagine that Time was kinder to them than it was to me but I was not hopeful that it was in actuality, I would just imagine that it was. I had much practice in staying awake at night, and so my imagination was very healthy.

I never slept any place where I could not keep a light close by. If there was no light nearby, my soul would certainly slip out of my body when I dreamed. Many times I had slept without knowing it, but because there was a light on, my soul did not know it had the chance to leave me. This was how I thought about it, but I never risked falling asleep purposefully even with a light on. I would lay with my eyes open and try to employ all the techniques I could in trying to stay awake. I tried never to think about the night in which my soul left me. It came back. But I tried to make sure it never had the chance to leave me again.

I would just lay awake and remember all the experiences of my life and imagine new ones and listen to the various noises of the night because there are always noises in the night. And so, listening to the frogs in conversation in the distance at the faraway lake, I would try to forget about my soul leaving my body. I looked out my window and saw the stars in the sky. In San Francisco, the city I was from, there were very few stars in the sky. I would look for them through my bayview window, and try to spot them, but usually all I could see was a kind of shade of gray. Now I could see the the stars and it seemed that the stars were as plentiful as anything in the universe, twinkling together in a brightened darkness. I looked at the stars, and this was something I never did in keeping awake at night, this was something new. I looked at the stars, and listened to the frogs and a strange kind of comfort fell over me with this new development. It was as if the frogs were singing to the stars and the stars were shining for the frogs.

there he is bukowski
sitting at his desk writing
poetry listening to Beethoven

taking in the grandiose aspirations
of that era of gorgeous music that
sought to fill the cathedral that is
our earth with something worthwhile
to listen to

there he is bukowski
sitting at his desk writing
poetry making fun of human kind
for not seeing it’s own immensity

all the happy happenings
going round and round
little children laughing
old men sighing
everyone gathered
upon this ever present
viewing deck
waiting for their moment
when they can let their
stars fall

the cosmic dreamer
took the corner out of town
and saw his reflection in a river
and the river asked for a kiss
and the cosmic dreamer
could not resist.

the most tender thing
you ever said to me
was
Please,
don’t leave me alone.

today in the midst
of traffic concrete
fog and anxiety

an Indian came up
to me fresh from Alaska
and said here this is
for you, i found it walking
in the wilderness on a
mountain range that one can
climb and never encounter
another human being for
months, my sister died,
i spread her ashes at
the top of a peak
that we call the point
of the great inception and

on my way down I found
this, I opened the delicately
wrapped paper and found

an eagle’s feather

every morning the
hummingbirds come
up to my window to
feed from a little nectar
rescepticle i have hanging
from my window sill and
every time they are
singing